The kind of relationship we have with milestones

Thor, the god of thunder, was given a memorable piece of advice from his mother:

Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. But the measure of a person, a hero, is how they succeed at being who they are.

Her words suggest a question that most of us have probably never asked.

What kind of relationship do we have with milestones?

That’s a big word in our culture. We’re constantly searching for all these external markers to reassure us that the proper path is being followed.

Roman road builders originated the term a few thousand years ago. They used actual stones to record the name of the reigning emperor and demarcate the distance traveled.

Today, milestones are still installed on our highways as metal markers, although for the most part, the term is used symbolically.

On one hand, this norm of progress serves a positive function. Milestones help people navigate this absurd, complicated and agonizing world. In fact, some people are highly motivated by milestones. Those markers inspire them to achieve great things, and that’s great.

The danger is when we start expressing real and persistent distress over not being where we think we are supposed to be.

The danger is when we grow constantly neurotic about the remaining distance to our destination.

Because both of those anxious urges take us out of the present moment and devastate our opportunity for joy.

We miss tons of beautiful experiences, simply because they aren’t labeled as milestones. The channel is blocked. The nerves tighten with every tick of the clock.

Are your values and identity inextricably tied to the sociocultural zeitgeist, rather than being rooted in who you really are?

If so, find out a way to protect the piece of your identity that makes you go for what you want with total confidence. See if you can reframe your absolutist shoulds into simple preferences.

Because there is no rush. It’s not a race. And nobody is counting.

Give yourself permission to disregard the clock and free yourself from the constraints of inauthentic and irrational milestone deadlines.

You won’t be able to wield the power of thunder, but at least you’ll enjoy the rain.

If you didn’t have to worry about who you’re supposed to be, how might you succeed at who you are?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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